As UN Women has powerfully argued, concrete actions to eliminate the debilitating fear of violence must be a centerpiece of any future global development framework. The main objective of this paper is to review constitutional and legislative developments around gender-based violence, and how a human rights framework can support this critical element of the post 2015 global development agenda. We find that there has been major progress in establishing the right of women to live free of violence in both international and national law, and progress on both fronts has been especially rapid over the past decade or so. Today, national legislation in much of the world is consistent in not only prohibiting and criminalizing violence but also providing mechanisms to support victims and their families in a range of ways. The evolving jurisprudence on due diligence is a promising basis for holding governments accountable for gender-based violence in the context of the post-2015 framework. At the same time we recognize that the implementation of the laws on paper is often weak, and violence too often goes unreported. Moreover, information about the effectiveness of legislation and their implementation is scarce, and better efforts are needed in terms of both regular monitoring and evaluation. The important role of women’s groups and civil society is highlighted, both in terms of bringing about reform and monitoring implementation.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa has been hailed for its efforts to promote women’s health and rights.. The Protocol has now been signed and ratified by approximately two-thirds of African Union member states, from the most populous and largest to the smallest countries on the continent. The Protocol envisages major steps to improve the status of women on the continent, from economic opportunities and food security through to marriage and the rights of widows. This article seeks to contribute to the emerging literature on gender, health and rights, by exploring how government commitments to the health mandates of the Women’s Protocol have transpired in practice, one decade after its enactment, with a focus on resource allocations. The article’s scope includes a review of why sexual and reproductive rights matter, intrinsically, as rights, and evidence about their instrumental importance for development. Available evidence about status and trends in women’s health in Africa is presented, highlighting some advances as well as major shortcomings. This is the important empirical background against which to explore the human rights obligations of African states on this front, in particular the right to sexual and reproductive health and the potential contribution of the African Women’s Protocol. New analysis is undertaken of the extent to which governments have responded to the Protocol’s specific mandates with respect to military spending and social development, which suggests some promising trends. The conclusions highlight the finding that resource allocations in favour of health have significantly improved in countries that have ratified the Protocol, while underlining the importance of appropriate indicators and monitoring, and actions to ensure state accountability.
We examine height-for-age for 170,000 Indian and African children to understand why, despite two decades of sustained economic growth, the child malnutrition rate in India remains among the highest in the world. First, we show that Indian firstborns are actually taller than African firstborns; the Indian height disadvantage appears with the second child and increases with birth order. The patterns hold even when we only use between-sibling variation. Second, the birth order patterns vary with child gender and siblings' gender. Specially, the Indian firstborn height advantage only exists for sons. In addition, daughters in India with no older brothers show the sharpest height deficit relative to African counterparts; their parents are likely to have more children than planned in order to try for a son. These patterns suggest that the cultural norm of eldest son preference, which causes parents to differentially allocate resources across children by birth order and gender, keeps the average Indian child short.